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'Not a lot of good news': Snoqualmie Valley's state reps talk state budget, call for flat corporate tax
State Reps. Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne painted a harsh picture of the state's financial future during a legislative update and visit Friday, April 15, in Snoqualmie.
"There's not a lot of good news," Anderson told members of the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce.
He and Rodne related the current status of the state's next-biennium budget, with only a week remaining in the legislative session. Both representatives predicted the need for a special session to finalize the budget and address the $5 billion revenue shortfall. Anderson refers to the billions as a "spending deficit."
"Both the budgets that have been put forth by the House and the Senate spend $3 billion more than the last biennium budget," he added.
Proposals in the House, Senate and Governor's budgets vary but include significant cuts to K-12 education, a 16 percent increase in college tuition costs, and a 3 percent salary cut for government employees and teachers.
Rodne, who's served on the transportation budget committee for eight years, said the committee would likely move to increase the gas tax next year. Currently, Washington drivers pay $0.33 per gallon in taxes, he said, but the state cannot fund any more transportation projects until 2016, despite gas tax increases in 2005 and 2009.
Most of the $8.9 billion transportation budget comes from gas tax revenue and user fees, he said.
Also on transportation, Rodne said the multi-year test of HOT lanes on Hwy 167 was deemed a failure, and would not be considered for future road projects. Drivers had the option of paying a fee to use the HOT, or high-occupancy/toll, lane when the regular lanes were congested, and the fee increased with the amount of traffic.
After the grim budget news, the legislators briefly discussed some of the bills they are promoting now. One is a bill to allow private employers to give hiring preference to veterans, without violating federal Affirmative Action laws. Another would eliminate the state's Business and Occupation (B&O) tax and all its exemptions, and instead establish a flat-rate corporate income tax. Rodne was also happy to announce that the House budget had preserved Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program funding.